Want to find out about the NE music scene? Well you need NE Volume in your life!

So you guys know me as The Culture Vulture – I’m your one stop shop for cultural information, happenings and the queen of championing creative projects and people. However, I’m only as good as my network and the people in it – I’m constantly out there seeking information and keeping my ear to the ground. I started two years ago, just a love of going out and cultural goings on with a passion to champion people, places and projects whilst doing my own stuff.

Now my network and cultural knowledge in the cultural sector is second to none. In fact, if I ever went on mastermind, I’d want it to be my specialist topic. I spend an insane amount of time on social media – it’s my job to know the happenings, to seek out opportunities, create connections and have a good overview of the movers and shakers, emerging and exciting happenings. It means that I discover lots of things and exciting people on social – some of whom are doing thriving and vibing things in the sector but I’ve actually never met. Weird right? Admiring their work from a far whilst their work and content becomes a core part of my knowledge bank. Any type of admiring from a far sounds creepy to me – but I’m the proud queen of creeping.

So as The Culture Vulture – you guys know I’m all about championing and seeking out the gems, the new venues, the gigs which you attend and you know you’ve just seen something magical and of course, local artists! On the flip side, I’m also going to see Taylor Swift in May and I’m literally buzz light years about it. But when I think of the North East and music for recommendations and gig suggestions – I think of NE Volume! It’s a great in print and digital publication, that covers lots of real reviews and editorial about the North-East music scene.


Their reviews are written by real people, the venues are many familiar favourites and some new gems, the gigs covered make me so proud of our cultural scene and many a time, I’ve taken a chance on an unknown and LOVED IT.

I love Crack Mag but NE Volume are doing something a bit special and have totally cornered a niche. Their passionate ever-growing readership and thriving online community of music lovers is a testament to the fact they are doing something mega special.

So, I digitally caught up with NE Volume founder Lee Allcock (one of my 2018 new years’ resolutions is to meet in person), to find out more about NE Volume and where it all started!


Lee Allcock

What is NE volume?

NE Volume is a FREE North East music and culture magazine that is stocked in 250+ outlets right across the region (nevolume.co.uk/outlets) and is also available to download at nevolume.co.uk/magazine.

Tell me about you and the beginnings of NE Volume?

I’ve always been passionate about music, especially local bands and artists, and my dream was to become a music journalist. I studied Journalism at Teesside University, volunteered for some other local music magazines while working as a content writer, and I was then given a small grant by Teesside University to start my own business. Of course, I quit my job immediately and the rest is history.


Quitting your job to pursue your dream is right up my street – so what was your motivation for the business, like me – you’re a bit of an workaholic – you must love what you do!

It hasn’t been easy, and there have been a lot of ups and downs, but I absolutely love what I do and I wouldn’t want to do anything else. I support local bands, cultural events, and North East businesses for a living and that keeps me motivated.

There’s the Crack, Narc and others – I love NE volume but do you want to tell my readers what makes you and the publication different?

We’re actually the ONLY music and culture magazine based in Teesside. And, although Teesside is a pretty large area, I felt that The Crack and NARC weren’t really showcasing this area so I wanted to help.

So tell me what was your highlight of 2017 in terms of NE Volume?

To be honest, the fact that we’re still here and running in an internet-based world has got to be the highlight for me. It’s been a tough road, but with the support of so many bands, independent businesses, music venues, our loyal readers, my designer, and my writers, we’ve been able to continue to support the local music and culture scenes – and that makes it all worthwhile.

Of course, I have to ask this question – what’s been your favourite gig?

Liam Gallagher at Metro Radio Arena. Okay, it’s not a small local gig (which I also absolutely adore) but Liam was in his element from start to finish and he had the crowd in the palm of his hands.


Liam Gallagher

What’s your ‘one to watch’ for 2018?

Local band, The Pale White. They’re set to play at Riverside in Newcastle this month and it’s already sold out. They’ve also supported the likes of the Libertines and they’re destined for big things this year – I’m sure of it.


The Pale White

Who is your fave soloist?

Samantha Durnan; her beautiful lyrics and stunning vocals really do pull on the heartstrings.


Samantha Durnan

You also have a cultural corner within your publication, I’ve written for it before as the Culture Vulture (yey!) – but what are your plans for this?

My plan is to increase the number of cultural articles we cover over the course of 2018. We’ll also be looking to review theatre productions and comedy gigs as well as interview comedians and artists.

OK so say I’m in a band and I want to get an NE volume review – what should I do?

Don’t be afraid to get in touch with me at info@nevolume.co.uk including some background about your band and a link to your material and we’ll do all we can to arrange for your release to be reviewed.


You recruit lots of new aspiring writers and journalists – what’s your recruitment process?

It’s very simple: just send an email to me at info@nevolume.co.uk including your CV and a paragraph about your favourite aspect of the North East music scene and I will get back to you within 2 days maximum.


What are you up to for 2018?

I’m actually going to start my own radio show (fingers crossed) so I’ll be looking for local promoters, bands, soloists, and independent venue owners to join me for a chat. Again, if you’re interested then please email me and I’ll be happy to liaise with you.


Well that’s lush and Lee has already asked me to be on his radio show (I do love the sound of my own voice so obviously I jumped at it) so something to look forward to! Make sure you check out the current edition of NE Volume – it’s a treat!

Until next time Culture Vultures.


Are you in the Crafthood?

We all know I love small businesses….that’s a given right? Well what I love even more than that, is a small business that are absolutely owning and disrupting an established sector……And of course, what else could top trumps this? – well of course; an all-female run creative business….

Well hello there; The Crafthood….


The Crafthood are a business that I heard about through other people (always a good sign) so I can’t claim they are my discovery, but I certainly am one of their biggest champions…. First of all what’s in a name? Well The Crafthood have a really good one, just by going to something I feel a part of their ‘hood! I love their name and branding…..Secondly, they are making crafting amazing, exciting, essential for the modern day lass and socially responsible….

Right up my street!

If you don’t know who the Crafthood are…. Well you’re going to over the next 12 months! They are one of the most exciting creative businesses; growing and thriving in the North East currently. Their offering is three fold; they run their own workshops within North East’s up and coming independents – as fantastically talented craftswomen, you’ll get a lush crafting experience like no other. Secondly, they sell a fantastic bespoke range of products; from cards, to notebooks to clothing, to bespoke lettering and signage – all with their lush Crafthood edge! Thirdly, they organise their own events or add value to a pre-established event (keep an eye out for their pop-ups).

The Crafthood invited me along to one of their Brush Lettering workshops as a punter in May 2017 and I absolutely loved it……so where to begin…..


First and foremost, I’d like to say that The Crafthood workshops are for both artsy and crafty folk and others (like me!) – so for those that love crafting and trying new things in a new environment and taking time out just for you, to create; well their workshops are for you. However, if you’re like me and are massively creative but not at all “crafty”, well I can promise these workshops are for you too and you’ll love them.


I rocked up to their Brush Lettering workshop, I sat down with the other fellow participants and The Crafthood talked through our beautiful Brush Lettering pack, equipment, exercises and information. The first thing that hit me was the care to detail; everything I had was take away, beautifully presented and made me feel super excited to get started.


We had 20mins of expert tuition and information (and lush cake and refreshments from Flat Cap Joes) and then we were ready to get started. What was stand out through-out the session was how inclusive the session felt, whilst being able to experiment, chill and get creative. In all honesty, I felt like I was taking time out for me, creating and absolutely loving it! I also was able to chat to other participants through-out the session – was lovely to hear more about them and their creative interests.


Sharon and Kay (The master creatives behind Crafthood) chatted about their workshop portfolio, which currently consists of Brush Lettering, Soy Wax Candle-making and Modern Calligraphy. They also run their Crafty socials and attend events with add on mini taster workshops. For every workshop or organisation workshop booked, they book another workshop for a community group or charity– buy one gift one. It was lush to hear the “Wearside Women in Need” were benefitting from our brush lettering workshop…..


When we got hands on with the brush lettering, we worked through lots of different exercises and Kay and Sharon (The Crafthood) were always on hand to guide and offer feedback.


A lot of exercises were repetitive practicing of shapes and letters; the process of experimenting with technique and shape was really cathartic. As someone who struggles with detail and perfection, I actually found the process really freeing – being able to let go, make marks and just have a go without worrying about what things looked like…..However, I could not and still can’t master a “d”…… I will one day *shakes fist at the sky*…….


We were working towards a sentence or word – of course, because I’m the Culture Vulture, I wanted to write my name and also CV in brush lettering; luckily no “d”s involved. I was massively surprised how easy it was to become engrossed with the letter shape and completely forget how to spell things…..so there were a few moments when I would look proudly at my work and see letters missing….. boo!


As I got to the end of the workshop, I thought several things – firstly, I’d really enjoyed myself; I felt like I’d taken time out of the busy to do something lush just for me; this is something I so rarely do. Secondly, I’d learnt something new; I’m all about personal development and challenging myself – I felt walking away from this session that I’d actually developed a brand new skill and that was mint.


Thirdly, that I’d defs continue this; the lushness of brush lettering is that you can do it anywhere and The Crafthood workshop sets you up nicely with everything you need so you can practice and do it often. I am now a brush lettering aholic (minus the letter “d”)!


The Crafthood have a whole host of lush workshops, events and activities coming up – they are adding a new workshop to their workshop portfolio every season, so watch out for a developing programming……as always I will be championing them and attending – so check them out Culture Vultures and make sure you become a part of the C ‘Hood.


Northern Design Centre – a creative hub in Gateshead

There is a real buzz around Gateshead at the moment which is fuelled even more by Gateshead Council’s announcement that they are creating a 1.5 billion start up fund, specifically focusing on enhancing economic development and business start-up support. Moreover, the reasoning behind the funding is to assist Gateshead businesses to be even more competitive internationally and supporting the region in these international markets. There is a secondary fund that will change the way start-up businesses are supported in regards to employing people – anyone who runs their own business knows how challenging and overwhelming employing your first person can be; this extra support will help and should see the creation of 100,000 new jobs from 2017. This is good news for Gateshead business people and brilliant news for the area.

Gateshead is fast becoming known as an entrepreneurial hub on the National stage – all across the borough exists a wide range of diverse creative businesses that have survived the recession or have launched in its wake. That is one of the reasons I love attending networking events; listening to their stories makes me feel so inspired and proud to be from this area. At the moment, the regional press is full of stories of the thriving community of start-up businesses and creatives. And rightly so – us northerners have never been afraid of getting our hands dirty and doing the hard work necessary for business success.


A real entrepreneurial and creative hub in Gateshead, can be found just behind the Gateshead Quays, in the Baltic Business Quarter. Most people recognise The Northern Design Centre, as an icon on the sky line with its unique building design, by award winning local architects, Red Box Design but few know that the building is a purpose built space for start-up businesses and is full to the brim of exciting Gateshead businesses. I thought I’d use this blog post to talk about some of my favourite businesses in there and the innovative things going on right here in Gateshead!

Green Digit

Green Digit can be found on the first floor of the Northern Design Centre. Their innovative product Seed Cell are pods of various seeds in a wheel that are ready for planting; everything from herbs, to flowers, to chilli. This product has revolutionised gardening and made it a little bit fun again and completely accessible to all. You can plant these pods in the garden, in your allotment or grow them in your kitchen in a pot. The product is the brain child of founder, Dan Robson and in 2014, secured investment to scale up the business and manufacturing.


Green Digit can be found on the first floor of the Northern Design Centre. Their innovative product Seed Cell are pods of various seeds in a wheel that are ready for planting; everything from herbs, to flowers, to chilli. This product has revolutionised gardening and made it a little bit fun again and completely accessible to all. You can plant these pods in the garden, in your allotment or grow them in your kitchen in a pot. The product is the brain child of founder, Dan Robson and in 2014, secured investment to scale up the business and manufacturing.


YourFilm is growing; representative of the fact video (partly thanks to YouTube) is now one of the key mediums, alongside social media for businesses to communicate their offering and to engage with their customers. They can create visually fantastic commercials, training videos, animations, short films and promotional content – they’re abilities in this sector are endless. In fact, if you’re a business or organisation in the North East wanting a video, they are THE go to video production business. I recently put a call out on Facebook to my business connections, as I want to create a video for a future crowd funding campaign and 90% of people suggested YourFilm; that has to be a good sign that these guys are the very best!


I’ve met the guys behind YourFilm several times at networking events and what comes over loud and clear is their passion for film! One wonders, if we will ever see their very own big screen debut!?


CleanShakes can be found taking over the Northern Design Centre fridges with their yummy shakes. They make and bottle superfood shakes mixed with Almond milk that nourish to make you flourish. Each 250ml bottle is packed full of nutrition and taste; priced at £3.00. CleanShakes is the creation of three ladies, living in the North East. The story goes that one founder returned from America after travelling around and noticed the amount of juice bars, another founder had been researching keenly the diary free market and the other found was looking for better tasting healthy foods; they sat down, brainstormed and CleanShakes was born!


At Clean Shakes, they value your taste buds above anything else and they believe, they only deserve the very best; a top notch delicious premium healthy Shake. They are healthy and yummy – perfect combination.

Their shakers are the top priority; they want them to feel good, look good and with a bounce in their step. The shakes are packed with super foods, Almond Milk and are free of nasties; a daily dose of health within a balanced diet and bursting full of nutritional benefits. #tastethebenefits


They are currently developing their business model; plotting to scale up via funding their own growth and establishing CleanShakes as the number one alternative milkshake brand in the North East. It’s certainly an exciting time for this business! They have already secured written expressions of interest from the likes of Nudo, Fenwicks, Waitrose, Booths and Ocado. You can purchase a CleanShake via premium delis such as The Urban Bakery in Low Fell or the Cycle Hub in Newcastle this Easter weekend or by placing an order direct!

Follow them on Twitter: @CleanShakes

Design Network North

Design Network North is made up of Designers, Manufacturers, Businesses, Institutions, Students and Individuals who all work within or have a passion for Design in their industry.

The Network is designed to offer support, advice, networking, business opportunities and events to its members, partners and the wider community. Their aim is to increase the awareness of the importance of design within all industries, insuring that the value of design is considered by everyone, in the region and beyond.


As the Network is so diverse, they are able to pair up designers with other businesses who are looking to advance their design practices and create opportunities for working partnerships and future growth in the industry. It’s almost like a match maker service for businesses!

They also put on really brilliant networking events too!


Since 2009 Atomhawk have been working with movie studios, game developers and product designers to help realise their visions, bringing their ideas to life.

They’ve been involved in everything from projects with Nike, to working with Costa coffee, to The Guardians of the Galaxy film, to big budget computer games such as Mortal Combat, to very high profile projects like J.K Rowling’s Pottermore. Very impressive and right here in Gateshead; who would have thought!?

You can read more about their work on the Guardians of the Galaxy here.

atom hawk

They also exhibit and sell lots of their conceptual art from projects; The Art of Atomhawk Volume 2 features a diverse range of concept and marketing art from high profile projects such as Mortal Kombat, Project Spark, Injustice: Gods Among Us and J.K Rowling’s Pottermore. The images appear alongside insights into the thinking and influences behind the art work and digital painting tips from the Atomhawk artists. It also features personal pieces from members of the Atomhawk team.

The book is available to purchase on Amazon so have a deeks!

Entrepreneurial Business Management – Northumbria University

A quarter of the Northern Design Centre has been taken over by Northumbria University and the really innovative degree programme; entrepreneurial business management. The degree course sees students, embracing the lean start-up ethos; rapid testing of enterprise concepts and setting up and growing businesses and learning through their experiences. As such the course empowers and enables students so they leave University much more entrepreneurial and with (hopefully) successful established businesses.


Across the course, there are a really wide range of diverse businesses – from an all in one teabag from Tea3 Ltd, to Loco a 90s Club night at MSA, to a clothing line from PowrFitness, to North East Unity business consultancy, to an upcycling bike business.

The businesses have generated over £30K since conception showing how important these students are to economic development in Gateshead. They are full of ideas that are tested rapidly and experiencing real life business by doing; the office is so full of energy, it’s completely infectious!

There are many more businesses, not mentioned in this blog post, that call The Northern Design Centre their home. The ones chosen are simply my favourite ones that have crossed my path, as they are doing something a bit different, love the North East and play by their own rules! I’m all about rebellion so seeing other people making their own way, creating fantastic products and delivering quality services right here in Gateshead is magical!

Gateshead is on the way up…….partly powered by the magic that is happening in the NDC!